A Woodland Walk with Mushrooms and Monkeys

This Sunday afternoon we spent a couple of hours strolling through Hurtwood, near Pitch Hill….and what a perfect opportunity to take the Canon out for a walk.

The weather was perfect, our son had plenty of energy and I needed some fresh air. Pitch Hill is on our doorstep and although we’ve lived in the area for two years and passed it many times we’d never managed to visit.

It was pretty busy as there was an MTBO (Mountain Bike Orienteering) event and as a result my son’s new word is bike! He loved watching the cyclists pass and was more than impressed as a few of them raced up a ramp at speed and flew through the air.

I love this time of year and woodland walks are great for all your senses. The autumnal colours of leaves on the trees, in the air and on the ground. The damp undergrowth is a fantastic environment for moss and as a result creates a wonderful contrast to the thorny brambles. There were plenty of fungi at the base of trees and to the side of the path but I was pretty exited when I saw this Fly Agaric mushroom. It stood in solitude on a bed of bright green moss in beautiful sunlight.

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Towards the end of the walk there was a pond, together with bulrushes and dragonflies and a perfectly positioned bench to rest weary legs. I didn’t manage to capture any images of dragonflies but may be next time.

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The walk in itself was probably an easy one hour round trip but with little legs and inquisitive eyes (both me and my son!) it took two hours. We came home with arms full of brightly coloured fallen leaves, images of the fun Sunday afternoon, knowledge of a new place for family walks and a very tired boy.

I wonder where our next adventure will take us!

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Lesson 2 – Use mums and dads to your advantage

Parents are a great resource on set, use them to your advantage!

I’ve noticed on numerous occasions parents so desperate for their little one to smile, laugh and giggle on demand that they’ll jump up and down, sing and make faces on the sideline. But that’s exactly where they are, the sideline. While they have the child’s attention they’re not looking at the camera. But how do you address this without discouraging them from getting involved?

At first I felt uncomfortable but if I didn’t nip it in the bud I could just render all the images useless at the end of the session. I just tried ‘That’s great. Now let’s try something different. How about….?’ And that seemed to work pretty well. You’re not criticising what they’re doing but indicating that you’ve got what you need on that shot and to move on.

It doesn’t always have to be songs and silly noises, although they are pretty effective. Shiny or sparkly toys works really well for smaller children and babies. Attach them to a make shift fishing rod so the parent can dangle it just above the lens. That way parents are able to get the baby looking in the right direction without them invading your personal space or you trip over them. A good game of peek-a-boo behind the camera works a treat……not so much for teenagers. Although it’d certainly get their attention!

Parents are also very handy on set for wiping noses/faces. Well that is a parent’s job after all, isn’t it? 😉 As a result of one photo session where this didn’t happen I spent far too much of my time editing out dribble. Save yourself some unnecessary editing time and keep those wipes handy.

If the child has numerous outfits leave the parents to be the hair, make up and wardrobe department for the whole session. Feel free to make suggestions on what you think works well and what doesn’t. This downtime will allow you to take another sip of your much needed coffee which has been cooling steadily.

If you need a reflector of some form held in position parents are great for this too. This has much better results than if you attempt to hold it and take pictures at the same time, trust me. It’s also a lot less cumbersome than having it on a stand which would just be yet another obstacle for you to hurdle and the little one to trip over.

Just consider, both you and the parents want the same thing, fantastic results. So in most cases you’ll find the parents will be willing in anyway they can to achieve this. So just ask!

Never work with children and animals, they said.

If I was going to put this passion into practice I had better start practicing and build a portfolio along the way.

My little man is my muse, my model and so much more but there’s only so many images of him I could use. I needed different faces. I needed different ages. I needed volunteers! I was astounded by how many parents were interested in volunteering their children for an hour or so in return for a free set of images. I scheduled as many photo sessions as I could, leaped onto that steep learning curve and haven’t looked back.

The very first session was full of challenges and enough to make me question my new adventure. I spent the journey home thinking ‘What on earth am I doing? I’m an accountant. Just stick to what you know’. But looking at the positives I enjoyed every minute of it, the children and the parents were lovely and I took away ideas to prevent some of the hiccups from happening again.

On to the next session wiser, more prepared…and with a wipe clean backdrop.

 

Catherine Dawn Photography – About me

For as long as I can remember I’ve had a love for art and photography, however almost twenty years ago I chose accountancy as my career path. The Corporate world became my life and I just about managed to squeeze in ‘normal’ every day things like relationships and time with family and friends. I’m sad to say my passion for art took a back seat.

Since having my son in December 2013 I began to rekindle my relationship with a camera. I bought myself a DSLR and began to take advantage of my little, perfect muse! I’ve taken advantage of every opportunity to capture our life whilst learning new techniques and most importantly having lots of fun along the way.

I finally decided to see where an adventure in photography would lead. I chose to specialise in family photography because of it’s importance in capturing life and preserving those special moments for us all to cherish…..not to mention little people are so much fun to spend time with!

Let the adventure begin!